In the last three months, three women under the age of 40 have died at the Fluvanna Correctional Center. Lawyers representing the inmates want a federal judge to step in, and politicians are reacting to the news with varied degrees of concern.
Governor Ralph Northam – a board certified neurologist –said he was in close contact with the Department of Corrections. Under court order, the state is supposed to be improving medical care at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and Northam felt the prison was doing well.
“I think that they’re doing a good job, but there are always opportunities to do better, and we certainly want our inmates to be safe," he told reporters at an event in Charlottesville. "We want them to have access to quality healthcare, and that’s what I’m committed to, and I’ll continue to work on.”
But State Senator Creigh Deeds acknowledged a serious problem, claiming society cares little about prison inmates.
“When there are few public dollars to go around, healthcare for the incarcerated is not a priority for a lot of people," Deeds contended, "but the reality is these people are in our custody, and we have to do a better job.”
Inmates first sued the prison in 2012, alleging an on-going failure to meet minimal standards for medical care. Three years ago the prison settled a lawsuit, agreeing to independent monitoring, but in May of this year the Legal Aid Justice Center was back in court on behalf of a 39-year-old woman who was unable to get life-saving medication prescribed by her doctors. Last month she was again hospitalized and this week she died – less than three months before she was set to be released.